“It’s impossible to reproduce a novel’s deep characterizations and nuances of plot development in a comic book format…I don’t see how a novel could be done that way—except by boiling down the novel to a few incidents and characters and tossing away almost all of the depth and plot development”: That’s science fiction writer Ben Bova making one of the two major statements this week that have raised the hackles of many on Team Comics. Bova was writing about the future of books and literacy in general, and made an unfortunate detour into comics for a few paragraphs, in which he said something silly. There are a few factors that explain why Bova may say something so silly. First, he doesn’t seem to have a firm grasp on what graphic novels actually are, defining them as “Essentially…comic books for adults,” which, at best, is true of only some of the things we refer to when we say “graphic novels.” Second, he’s a lifelong, career prose writer, and thus likely sees the publishing world from that perspective, so that only the word half of the comics equation registers with him. And third, he is old. None of these are excuses for saying something as ignorant as that in public—he is, after all, completely ignoring the fact that art can also be used to reveal deep characterization and plot nuance—but they at least help explain why he might have said it.
“Today’s superhero is too much like an action hero who participates in non-stop violence; he’s aggressive, sarcastic and rarely speaks to the virtue of doing good for humanity”: And that’s the other statement, part of psychologist Sharon Lamb’s conclusions of a study of how the media and marketers package masculinity to boys presented on Sunday to the annual convention of the American Psychological Association. Coverage and reaction have popped up here, here, here, here, here and some half-dozen other places so far as well, but I think Tom Chivers of The Telegraph offered my favorite response so far. After pointing out the obvious that of course superheroes are usually terrible role models—box office champs include alcoholic, narcissistic arms developer and dealer Iron Man and violent psychotic vigilante Batman—the study’s conclusion of “today’s superheroes” is flawed by the fact that today’s superheroes are the same one of the 1940s and ’60s: “If Dr Lamb really wanted to criticise modern superheroes, she could point out that they don’t exist: nobody seems to have thought up a really interesting new one in 25 years.”
“If we don’t break out of the big buff guys with swords, and guys in tights, and space marines in armor, we’re going to get marginalized the way that comic books have been in the United States”: So said Disney video game developer Warren Spector, talking about the video game industry.
You guys aren’t sick of talking about Scott Pilgrim‘s box office performance yet, are you?: Here’s another analysis, this one from the LA Times and focusing on Scott Pilgrim as “a comic book movie,” despite the vast differences between it and other comic book movies like Kick-Ass, The Losers, Watchmen, The Spirit, Iron Man and The Dark Knight. Blogger Heidi MacDonald has the best take: “nothing can take away Bryan Lee O’Malley’s charming, thrilling, hilarious generation-defining graphic novels and the wonderful movie they inspired.” Amen.
“Skeletor as envsisioned as a Road Sorcerer who dispense evil on his Panthor cycle”: That’s part of the description of Shane McDermott’s redesign for He-Man’s archenemy on Superhero Cocoa. Check out all of the redesigns—including Baby Skeletor and Hipster Skeletor— here. (Via Project: Rooftop)
“Penny Arcade surprised to find that rape jokes offend people”: That’s the headline of this story, to which I have no commentary to add, because I am not surprised to learn that that’s a touchy subject.
“The History of Aquaman Explained”: At Comics Alliance, Curt Franklin and Chris Haley recount the history of Aquaman in just nine extremely wordy panels. I, um, I didn’t read the words on top, as there were one million of them in each panel, but the pictures and dialogue were very funny.
“5 comic books that will see you through Scott Pilgrim withdrawal”: All of the comics on this i09 list are pretty good and/or ones I enjoyed reading, but I’m not sure any of them qualify as all that Scott Pilgrim-like…even by their definition of “the Scott Pilgrim aesthetic” as “disaffected young people in totally inexplicable supernatural and scifi situations.” Off the top of my head, and looking around at the comics in my own long boxes and book shelves, I’d suggest Oni’s own Black Metal, Sharknife and Peng! as the closest to Scott Pilgrim overall, while Lost at Sea and Project: Superior give you more Bryan Lee O’Malley (just a single short story in the case of the latter). Sailor Moon, School Rumble and Kill Me, Kiss Me among the many, many manga and manwha that similarly use fighting as a symbol of young love, Sidescrollers similarly uses some arcade-logic and plenty of video game references and, I don’t know, King City has an all-around-awesome-in-its-own-way-the-way-Scott-Pilgrim-was-also-awesome-in-its-own-way thing going on.